Patti wanted to be a mother, but medications that controls her rheumatoid arthritis made it very difficult to achieve that dream. She decided to form new dreams and now mentors others with arthritis.
Growing up on a farm, Patti helped bale hay and walk soybeans, among other chores. She was one of six siblings, and they all helped on the farm when they were young. Patti was proud of her role and being a farmer’s daughter taught her physical and internal strength. In her early 20s, she started experiencing extreme pain in her feet and then in other areas of her body. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) shortly after.
When Patti began her career at Schneider Electric’s DTN/The Progressive Farmer, an agricultural information company, she used her lunch time to rest. If she had any activities planned after work, she would have to go home and take a break first. The pain of arthritis made even daily activities a struggle. Morning stiffness made getting out of bed a difficult task. Patti wasn’t afraid to ask for help, and she used that as an opportunity to educate people about arthritis.
After marrying her high school sweetheart, Patti longed to have a baby. The many medications she took to control her arthritis made the process of becoming pregnant very difficult. Patti finally decided to give up on her dream of having a child. She formed new dreams and pursued them.
After eight years and 19 medications, Patti’s RA is finally under control and she no longer has pain on a daily basis. Patti’s husband, friends, family and pets enrich her life and bring her joy. She enjoys bowling with her husband and friends in a weekly league. She and her husband also enjoy visiting their cabin on the Elkhorn River to rest and recuperate after the work week.
Patti began volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation over 20 years ago. “I feel strongly that God gave me this disease for a reason,” says Patti. “And that reason is to educate people about arthritis and help others who also have it.”
Patti is a previous recipient of the William M. Kizer Light of Wellness Award presented by the Wellness Council of the Midlands. She believes the most rewarding part of volunteering is to see someone’s despair and fright be replaced with knowledge and optimism.